Gaudium et spes on respect for dignity
The great Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et spes, charges the flock of Christ to be particularly attentive to respect for human dignity and the gravity of violations against it. I often struggle in my attempt to live out the Church’s social teachings, so with you, I try to read this magnificent passage with an open heart (all emphasis is mine):
Wishing to come down to topics that are practical and of some urgency, the Council lays stress on respect for the human person: everyone should look upon his neighbor (without any exception) as another self, bearing in mind above all his life and the means necessary for living it in a dignified way lest he follow the example of the rich man whol ignored Lazarus, the poor man.
Today there is an inescapable duty to make ourselves the neighbor of every man, no matter who he is, and if we meet him, to come to his aid in a positive way, whether he is an aged person abandoned by all, a foreign worker despised without reason, a refugee, an illegitimate child wrongly suffering for a sin he did not commit, or a starving human being who awakens our conscience by calling to mind the words of Christ: “As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Mt. 25:40).
The varieties of crime are numerous: all offenses against life itself, such as murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia and wilful suicide; all violations of the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, physical and mental torture, undue psychological pressures; all offenses against human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisionment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children, degrading working conditions where men are treated as mere tools for profit rather than free and responsible persons: all these and the like are criminal: they poison civilization; and they debase the perpetrators more than the victims and militate against the honor of the creator.
Gaudium et spes, no. 27